Frequently Asked Questions
Why is Forensic Nursing Important?
Victims of violence and abuse require care from a health
professional who is trained to treat the trauma associated with the
wrong that has been done to them—be it sexual assault, intimate partner
violence, neglect, or other forms of intentional injury. Forensic nurses
are also a critical resource for anti-violence efforts. They collect
evidence and give testimony that can be used in a court of law to
apprehend or prosecute perpetrators who commit violent and abusive acts.
What is a Forensic Nurse?
A forensic nurse is a nurse who provides specialized care for patients who are victims and/or perpetrators of trauma (both intentional and unintentional). Forensic
Nurses are NURSES first and foremost. However, the specialized role of
forensic nurses goes far beyond medical care; forensic nurses also have a
specialized knowledge of the legal system and skills in injury
identification, evaluation and documentation. After attending to a
patient’s immediate medical needs, a forensic nurse often collects
evidence, provides medical testimony in court, and consults with legal
Are there different types of forensic nurses?
Forensic nurses work in a variety of fields, including sexual assault
(as Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners or SANEs), domestic violence, child
abuse and neglect, elder mistreatment, death investigation, corrections,
and in the aftermath of mass disasters.
Where do forensic nurses practice?
In the United States, forensic nurses most frequently work in
hospitals, community anti-violence programs, coroner’s and medical
examiners offices, corrections institutions and psychiatric hospitals. Forensic nurses may also be called on in mass disasters or community crisis situations.
Are there educational requirements to practice as a Forensic Nurse?
Yes. The IAFN has education guidelines for a variety of Forensic Nursing specialties. Your hospital may also have additional/separate requirements. Additionally, your local Board of Nursing may also regulate Forensic Nursing practice in your state/territory/country.
Which Forensic Nursing school should I go to?
The International Association of Forensic Nurses does not sponsor, endorse, or make recommendations regarding any educational programs or institutions.
I am doing a paper on Forensic Nursing, can I talk to a forensic nurse?
You can look on line at our chapter listings to see if you have a local chapter of the Association, or see if there is a program in your community that you might reach out to locally. You can also email us.
Where can I find a training in my state?
Please go to the Training & Events page on the this site. The Association also offers a plethora of education through its Online Learning Center, including the Adult/Adolescent and Pediatric/Adolescent 40-hour Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner Course.
Where can I list a forensic event my organization is sponsoring?
Go to the Training & Events section and click on the Submit an Event form. Events are usually posted within 48 hours of submission.
Where can I find Forensic Nursing Standards of Practice?
The Forensic Nursing: Scope and Standards of Practice were updated in 2009 are available to purchase through the IAFN Store.